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Thursday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele — last modified Jan 19, 2024 10:59 AM

Yesterday's topics with the most engagement included caring for a father-in-law, MCPS school closures, a rude teenager, and the Supreme Court's consideration of the regulatory authority of government agencies.

The most active thread yesterday was the Kate Middleton thread that I discussed yesterday. I'll skip that one today, but will mention that DCUM's usage statistics showed a significant bump in traffic yesterday. When I checked Google's search statistics, I saw that searches for Kate Middleton were driving users to our site and were responsible for the increased traffic. The next most active thread was titled, "Dad fell, SIL lives closest" and posted in the "Family Relationships" forum. The original poster says that her father-in-law was injured by a fall and will be immobile for several weeks. He has moved in with the original poster's sister-in-law who lives close to him and she has been taking care of him. However, the sister-in-law has run out of sick leave and asked the original poster's husband if he can come stay at her house for a week. The original poster and her family live about 3 hours away. The original poster's husband is currently unemployed and, as such, has a flexible schedule. However, the original poster is scheduled to travel for work during the week, which would leave nobody available to care for their children. She asks for suggestions about what to do. As is typical of DCUM, not all of the responses are helpful. But, a number of posters do attempt to provide useful answers. For some reason, the original poster tended to respond more often and more substantively to the unhelpful posts, often with a combination of self-pity and aggression. This started a spiral in which posters reacted even more negatively to the original poster, causing her to increase her complaints about the how unhelpful the responses were. The result was a thread that has a mostly negative tone. In addition, many responses were clouded by what appears to have been chips on the shoulders of many posters over the fact that women — in this case the original poster's sister-in-law — often get stuck with the bulk of the responsibility in cases such as these. There were several complaints that the original poster's unemployed husband had not been doing more to help. The original poster, in turn, devoted a lot of effort to defending her husband and stressing the assistance that he had been providing. The problem with situations like this is that there are no easy answers and whatever answers exist all have drawbacks. Ultimately, the perfect solution will not be found and, instead, the original poster and her family will have to make compromises. Many of those responding clearly recognize that fact, while not explicitly articulating it. The solutions proposed are imperfect, but probably the best available. However, the original poster's tendency is to either ignore such proposals or fixate on their downsides. This added to an increasing level of frustration among almost all posters in the thread.

The next most active thread was posted in the "Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS)" forum. Titled, "School closed 1/19/24", this is the third day straight that a MCPS thread about snow has been among the most active threads of the day. It is an understatement to say that this forum is obsessed with weather-related school closures. Not only does the forum produce repeated threads on the same topic that are among the most active, but there are several similar threads in the forum that are also active. Yesterday I think I had to lock a half-dozen or so additional threads about the snow. In fact, the next most active thread yesterday, also in the MCPS forum, was titled, "Virtual?" and also related to school closures. That was one of the threads that I locked, so I'll just lump the two together and discuss them at once. Both threads addressed the closure of schools today. The "Virtual?" thread was started by a poster who had heard that there would be virtual instruction today. This led to responses from posters who had heard the same thing and from others who had not. Whether or not virtual instruction was a good idea was a topic of debate, with several posters pledging not to participate. Eventually an email from a MCPS administrator clarified that there would not be virtual instruction unless schools were to be closed for several days which would not be the case today. So, no virtual instruction. the "School closed" thread started after a formal announcement about today's closure was posted and immediately delved into whether there would be virtual instruction. This resulted in a diversion about whether or not teachers were at fault for the lack of virtual instruction. Some posters never miss an opportunity to criticize teachers and, in this case, teachers were attacked for a decision in which they had no part of. A MCPS thread combining school closures, virtual learning, and criticism of teachers is practically the perfect storm and makes it unsurprising that the thread generated 13 pages of posts in just over 12 hours (which included many hours in which most users were sleeping). Each of these topics is controversial in its own right, let alone all three at once.

Next was a thread titled, "DS14 said something very rude and ungrateful during the holidays and I still don’t know if we handle it well" and posted in the "Tweens and Teens" forum. The original poster explained that over Christmas her family visited her father-in-law. Her father-in-law has established college funds for each of her children and her 14-year-old son already has enough money in his fund to pay for almost any college. Because the father-in-law puts so much money into these funds during the year, he doesn't provide additional Christmas gifts, but only gives each child a card. When he gave the card to the original poster's son, he replied with a rude comment about not ever having asked for the college fund and not appreciating an empty card. The original poster and her husband scolded the boy, forbad him from playing with a new gaming computer he had received as a present for a month, and had him apologize to his grandfather. But, the original poster is still not sure the importance of the college fund and her son's lack of gratitude have sunk in. She wonders what else she might do. The problem with crowdsourcing an issue like this is that the forum's poster are not, for the most part, child development experts. Many of those responding are probably not in much of a position to offer worthwhile advice. As such, responses range from the absurd such as advice to give away the college fund or take away all of the boy's Christmas presents to those advising to do nothing. Many posters make the point that a college fund is very abstract to a 14-year-old and teenagers can be compulsive and thoughtless as the best of times. But, others see the boy as entitled and suggest responses that might make him more aware of his privileges. Several posters argue that the existence of the college fund is irrelevent. The boy should have been thankful and grateful even if he had not received anything other than a card. But, other posters defended the 14-year-old, saying that it is understandable that the child would have preferred something tangible and blamed the grandfather for not also providing an additional gift, even if it were nothing more than a $25 gift card. A few posters expressed support for the original poster and suggested she had handled the situation appropriately. Some said that having their children turn out to be entitled was one of their fears.

Next was the Gaza war thread but I'll skip that one because I've already discussed it. Following that was a thread posted in the "Political Discussion" forum titled, "Bye-bye Chevron". At issue is who has the responsibility to clarify ambiguous laws that have been passed by Congress. Normally these gaps are filled by regulations promulgated by government agencies. The basis of this practice is 1984 court decision called Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council. The Supreme Court recently held a hearing on a case aimed at overturning Chevron and conservative justices who now dominate the case expressed considerable skepticism about the regulatory ability of government agencies. Supporters of the Chevron decision argue that the regulatory agencies have the expertise necessary to best create regulations. Opponents, argue that agency decisions are often politicized and can change with each administration. They argue that it is the role of the Courts to interpret laws. Therefore, if Chevron is overturned, regulatory responsibility will be largely moved from government agencies to the Courts. There are several ironies involved with this case. As one of those responding pointed out, the Chevron decision had its roots in efforts by Republican judges to empower government agencies to protect President Ronald Reagan's deregulation initiatives. Courts had been overruling Reagan and the Chevron decision shifted power to government agencies. Moreover, Republicans have historically complained about judges "legislating from the bench". If Chevron is overturned, such legislating will increase exponentially. Many posters in this thread are completely aghast at the implications of overturning the Chevron decision. They worry that everything from environmental regulations to food and drug safety will be put at risk. Others, also seeing the implications of a full reversal being too daunting, expect a very narrow decision that will have limited impact. One of the issues involved in this case is how to fund enforcement of laws. Congress often passes laws without providing funding for enforcing them. In response, agencies have created regulations that impose fees that are used to fund enforcement. It's possible that the ability of agencies to impose such fees will be limited while other regulatory authority is retained.

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